26 Apr 2018

Forest owner and two contractors fined over $65k

7:46 pm on 26 April 2018

The forestry industry says a ruling against an Eastern Bay of Plenty forest owner and two harvesting contractors should come as a warning to any other rogue operators.

The offending activity in Whitikau Forest.

The offending activity in Whitikau Forest. Photo: Supplied

The companies were taken to court for disturbing stream beds and discharging sediment, trees and forestry debris into streams on a 197-hectare block of pine trees in mountainous terrain south-east of Ōpōtiki.

A $57,000 fine was handed to the forest owner, Whitikau Holdings Limited while contractors, Paturakau Limited and Neville Walker were each fined $4300 respectively.

In a joint statement with other industry groups, Forest Owners' Association president Peter Weir said the behaviour was not accepted.

"There have been a number of prosecutions by regional councils and we're sending a signal [that] we absolutely support regional council's taking prosecutions for substandard practices.

"It's not fair for the majority of contractors who are doing the right thing ... if a small number make a mess for everybody else," Mr Weir said.

Mr Weir said there were a number of good management practices for working around streams - but these had been flouted in this case.

"You don't drive machinery through streams," he said.

Mr Weir said new National Environmental Standards, 10 years in the making, would take effect next week and would raise the bar for all forest operations.

He said the standards, which included there being a harvest plan for all work, would be enforced by regional councils and contractors needed to be aware of the changes.

"The harvest plan will [need to] have erosion and sediment control methods in it," Mr Weir said.

At the moment some regional councils had numerous rules and regulations for forestry while others had none and this would create a New Zealand wide suite of regulations, he said.